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Working on Text Features in the Classroom

Working on text features in the classroom is fun with these posters, activities, and games for upper elementary. 

Do you remember the first time you opened a chapter book?

What about a college textbook, or maybe even *gasp* an encyclopedia.

Now, I may be dating myself here, but staring down a full shelf of encyclopedias for me was an overwhelming experience. The sheer number of volumes and different books and topics seemed like too much. How would I ever find what I was looking for?

Luckily, our kids today will probably never know the fear of staring down an encyclopedia shelf, but they will still come into contact with plenty of books with a Table of Contents, Glossary, and even an Index. Even when I read a book on my phone, I often go to the table of contents to jump between chapters, click the link to take me to the glossary page for a definition or zoom in to take a closer look at a diagram.

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Navigating books, whether online or physical, is an important part of working through texts of all kinds and learning how to navigate those books falls heavily on the shoulders of elementary teachers.

Luckily, today we are going to provide you with a few ideas for working on text features in the classroom.

First, let’s introduce some posters.

Working on Text Features in the Classroom: Posters

These Free Text Features Posters are a must-have in the elementary classroom. Each one goes over a different text feature and provides some examples of each.

Let’s talk about 3 ways to use these posters.

First, hang them up…(kind of obvious, right?)

Second, play a little game of seek and find.

To do this activity, start by putting students in groups and hand out a text feature poster to each group. Next, ask students to spend 10 minutes collecting examples of their text features to share with the class. This may be a particularly good activity to do in the library, but as long as you have a variety of text types available in your classroom, students should be able to find plenty of examples. Then let each group share out. They could even use tablets to take pictures of the examples. Those photos can then be hung next to the text feature poster when it is put on the wall.

The third way to use the posters is to have students ‘mark up’ your classroom books.

After introducing text features to students, hang the posters around the room. Next to each poster, put a set of color-corresponding sticky notes. (For example, the Diagram poster is green so that it would have a set of green sticky notes next to it; likewise, the Chart/Graph poster is yellow so that it would have yellow sticky notes.)

During reading time throughout the year, encourage students to use sticky notes to mark places in your classroom texts where they found examples of each text feature type. If they find a diagram in one of their books, they’ll go get one of the green sticky notes, write ‘diagram’ on it and their name, and then leave it in the book.

At the end of the year, many of your classroom books will be ‘marked up’ as your students continue to ‘find’ text feature examples. (At the end of the year, count how many different examples your students found, and celebrate their success!)

These are just a few ways you can encourage students to identify text features using the Free Text Feature Posters.

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Working on Text Features in the Classroom: Games

Another fun way to work on text features in the classroom with your students is to use some games like this U-KNOW card game.

This Text Feature U-KNOW card game will let students identify different types of text features as they play against their classmates to win the game.

One of the things I love most about U-KNOW cards is all the different ways you can use them. We provide specific instructions for how to play the games in the resource, but we have some more fun ways to reuse and repurpose U-KNOW card decks in this blog post.

Another fun game that you can play either in small groups or in a whole group setting is the Text Features Game Show. I particularly like this game because students are asked to identify different text features based on pictures and examples.

The Text Features Game Show questions work in the opposite way that we use the posters. In the poster activities, students are given a text feature and asked to find examples.

In the Game Show, they are asked to look at an example and identify the text feature. Being able to find examples and identify examples are both important to understanding the purpose that text features serve in a text.

We have many different posts written about how to use game shows in the classroom, including different ways to uplevel your game shows with elements like sound effects, different ways to repurpose game show slides, and how to print off game show slides to use for other activities.

Working on text features in the classroom can be a lot of fun when you bring in some of these posters, activities, and games (despite never getting the satisfaction of finding exactly what they were looking for in a full stack of encyclopedias). 

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